Saturday, July 13, 2024

It’s not all lost for Botswana

When the 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals gets underway in Cote d’Ivoire from the 13th January to the 11th February 2023, Botswana will not be there.

However, one familiar face will be present. That of former Zebras coach Adel Amrouche. The Algerian born gaffer will be there at the helm of Tanzania. Under his guidance, the Taifa Stars have qualified for the African football showpiece.

When he was appointed to lead Tanzania in March this year, the team was tied for 1 point with Uganda at the bottom of Group F in the Afcon 2023 qualifiers.  His tenure started with a 1 – 0 win over Uganda before he lost to the same team by the same scoreline. He then beat Niger for his second win at the helm before holding Algeria to a goalless draw away to finish the qualifiers with a flourish.

It was a sweet redemption for the former Zebras coach who left the shores of Botswana after a tumultuous tenure. Amrouche’s heroics with Tanzania will surely raise questions as to what the country is doing wrong.

During his tenure at the helm, Amrouche lamented that the Zebras’ success was being sabotaged by those within Lekidi. His battles with the Botswana Football Administration (BFA) staff were well documented.

Some of his notable battles were against BFA’s manager of national teams Monnakgotla Mojaki, the then head of competitions Phuthego Setete as well as the national team doctor. Most notably, he even barred one member of staff from entering the team ‘after accusing him of selling out the team secrets.’

Despite all the above, Amrouche, who still has a soft spot for Botswana, is optimistic the national team can do well. “You have good players,” he muses. “But football needs good management. You had a good president (Letshwiti) and vice president. Others are still far,” he opines.

Whereas in Botswana there were tensions and fights, he says things are calmer and harmonious in Tanzania. “I talked about all the sabotage when I was there. Here, (in Tanzania) when you work, you don’t need to look around you to check if people want to sabotage you. You have all the confidence,” Amrouche declares.

Reminiscing of his bitter sweet stay at the helm, he then recalls how ‘some people called anti-doping officers’ into the Zebras camp after the team beat Zambia.’ He still cannot wrap his head around why beating Zambia ‘without having played a friendly game and no competition’ could have triggered such an act.

On the difference between Zebras and Tanzanian players, Amrouche believes nothing separates them. “Is the same skills and you enjoy to work with the both Botswana and Tanzanian players,” he reminisces.

However, while working with Botswana players, the Algerian gaffer found them to be lacking discipline and moved to instil it. Some players were not called for national duty and some had to be compelled to apologise before they could be allowed back into the fold.

“In the beginning in Botswana, I did not find discipline with players drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. But after few days I made an order,” he says. “They are not bad players. I had very good time with my players in Botswana. Up to now, they stay in contact with me. Sometimes I helped them. Is like family. And I wish them all the best. I miss them,” he says.

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